Salmonella Sickens 15 People in 11 States Due to Undersized Turtle Purchases, CDC SaysA federal law bans the sale of pet turtles smaller than 4 inch carapace length.

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Salmonella Sickens 15 People in 11 States Due to Undersized Turtle Purchases, CDC Says

The people infected with the bacteria reportedly purchased turtles smaller than the required 4 inch minimum carapace length.

Those considering the purchase of a turtle should do so from a reputable pet store or turtle breeder and not from street or swap meet vendors or other vendors that don't follow the law.

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Small turtles purchased online are likely responsible for 15 outbreaks of Salmonella infection in 11 states, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. Of the 15 infections, five people have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

The CDC says the turtles purchased online are smaller than the 4 inch carapace length required by federal law before the reptiles can be sold. The CDC conducted interviews with the sick people, performed laboratory analysis to determine where the reptiles were purchased to confirm. Half the people sickened with Salmonella reportedly purchased the turtles online, the CDC reported in its July 21, 2022 advisory.


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Those considering the purchase of a turtle should do so from a reputable pet store or turtle breeder and not from street or swap meet vendors or other vendors that don’t follow the law. Turtles with shell lengths of less than 4 inches should not be purchased as pets or given as gifts, according to the CDC.

The CDC recommended guidelines for purchasing a pet turtle:

  • Only buy turtles with shells longer than 4 inches and buy them from reputable pet stores or rescues.
  • Stay healthy around your pet turtle by always washing your hands after touching, feeding, or caring for your turtle. Adults should make sure young children are washing their hands properly.
  • Don’t toss your turtle if you decide you no longer want it. Reach out to your local pet store or reptile rescue.
  • Pick the right pet for your family. Pet turtles are not recommended for children younger than 5, adults aged 65 and older, and people with weakened immune systems as they are more likely to get a serious illness from germs that turtles can carry.

Symptoms of Salmonella

Salmonella symptoms include diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps after being exposed to the bacteria. Symptoms can occur from six hours to up to six days after infection, the CDC reports. The infection lasts 4 to 7 days with most people recovering without treatment. Children younger than 5 and adults older than 65, as well as those with weakened immune systems are prone to more severe illness.

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